As 2018 rolls on, in amongst our usual hectic UK touring schedule, we’ll take time out to join a traditional paddle steamer in New Orleans, entertaining the guests cruising down the Mississippi as well as performing with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band (hr-Big Band) in Luzerne.
Work has begun on a new record which we’re hoping to release by the end of the year but will keep you posted.
Is it too early to mention Christmas? Following on from the success of our long running and much loved Festive Fiesta now in it’s 387th year, this seasonal musical treat just got bigger! Now accompanied by our top flight 9 piece Big Mini Big Band, we will be serving up a sensational cocktail of seasonal fayre and musical highlights of 2018 kicking off at The Great Hall, Swansea The Great Hall, Swansea on Dec 1st and heading to Birmingham Town Hall on Dec 15th so come and join in the fun!
From Duo, Trio, Big Mini Big Band to 18 piece roaring big band or full orchestra, if you’re looking for an evening of live music that is upbeat and uplifting to extreme and performed by the very best, check out our Live Dates for a venue near you!
At the end of next month we take our Big Mini Big Band to play at the beautiful town hall in Leeds, it’ll be our first visit since the brilliant culmination concert of the BBC Radio Leeds community Big Band Project back in October 2012 featuring special guests Gregory Porter and Olly Murs.
The plan to construct a large public hall in Leeds was first agreed in July 1850, the council proposed it should be financed by selling shares in the building to the tune of £10, around £1300 in today’s money, but times were tough and little interest was shown. The decision to fund the build by other means was passed a year later and in 1852 Leeds corporation held an open competition for architects to put forward their designs.
The contract was won by 29 year old Cuthbert Broderick a young chap from Hull who had travelled all over Europe in his early 20’s admiring the architecture whislt enjoying a gap year or two. Understandably the committee had initial reservations about the capabilities of such a young unknown, so added a clause to his contract stating he wouldn’t receive a penny over the accepted building estimate of £39,000 approx. £5.25 million today.
During it’s troubled construction the design was modified and or altered many times, most controversially by the suggested inclusion of a tower originally costed at an additional £6k. Those in favour dreamed of the Continental associations of an impressive and grand town hall. Those against argued that “A tower would cost money and would only be good to look at, not to use.” Maybe the inclusion of the clock and bell helped remedy that argument as few had watches at that time.
As you’d expect plans for the town hall’s opening had to be made well in advance so much so, the clock tower had yet to be completed by the time Queen Victoria and Prince Albert arrived at Leeds station on the 6th September 1858, met by an estimated crowd of half a million plus. They stayed overnight at the mayor’s gaff, he must have put on a nice spread as she knighted him next day on her way to open the Town Hall.
I shall think of this and all the historic events that have taken place within her walls over the last 160 years as we set up for our concert on 30th June.
For the last twenty years or so, Vince Mendoza has been top of the list for major artists and ensembles in the market for fantastic sophisticated and expensive sounding orchestral arrangements. From Joni Mitchell, Sting, Melody Gardot, Elvis Costello, Robbie Williams and Björk to Joe Zawinul, John Schofield, Kurt Elling and Randy Brecker he’s worked with the best. Not only a gifted arranger but a great composer and conductor too, creating wonderful music with The Netherland’s Metropole Orkest and Germany’s WDR Big Band.
Though he can write in virtually any style his sound is completely his own and immediately identifiable and I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing this incredible musician a few weeks ago.
Our meeting was unexpectedly brought forward due to Vince’s rehearsal schedule, conducting The London Symphony Orchestra to accompany Gregory Porter at The Albert Hall, performing songs, from Gregory’s tribute to Nat King Cole album as arranged by Mr Mendoza, this meant instead of having two clear days to prep for such an important interview it came hot on the heels of one of our busiest touring weekends but then having to make time to listen to hours of painfully beautiful music is absolutely no hardship.
I very much enjoyed our chat about the world of Mendoza and felt so heartened to hear Vince’s views on the importance of live music and music education. Views shared by another visitor to the radio show this week, trumpeter, arranger, educator and director of The Count Basie OrchestraScotty Barnhart. He and the chaps were over as part of their European tour. Here’s a chap who has worked with the CBO for the last couple of decades as a star soloist before taking over as leader, a man who has had the privilege of sitting on a tour bus with some of the greatest names in big band history, people like Clark Terry, Frank Foster and Freddie Green. He spoke passionately about the history of this legendary ensemble now in it’s 83rd year and about meeting Count Basie himself when he was just seventeen. Scotty talked about his childhood growing up in Atlanta, Georgia where he was christened by non-other than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Scotty Barnhart and Vince Mendoza have a mantle shelf full of Grammys between them but you couldn’t wish to meet two more down to earth people who just love what they do.
Two sat navs, an atlas plus 3 extra hours on top of the required 5, afforded us the luxury of checking into our hotel before sound check. We rewarded ourselves with a cup of tea and homemade shortbread biscuits stacked pretty in a jar by the kettle.
Victoria Hall in Settle is a wonderful venue, it’s a joy to play and The Lion on Duke Street is a delightful place to eat and stay. The food is amazing as is the beer, Hetton Pale Ale from the Dark Horse Brewery (just lovely). Newsflash: Car and Kitchen has reopened! After a great gig we were further treated to some fantastic live music back at The Lion – Thursday Night Folk with Mike Harding.
Bright and breezy the next morning we headed up to Durham, managing to catch up with friends for lunch in the process. Mid fish finger sandwich I received a phone call from Mister-Sir Van Morrison regarding his excellent new album “You’re Driving Me Crazy” it was only when I finished the call did I realise I was standing up in the middle of the restaurant shouting with my finger in my ear – I’ll be singing folk songs before you know it.
From Durham to Winchester (whose idea was that?) Mud decided we’d be better off driving home after the gig rather than the next morning as the roads have been shocking of late, sat nav 1 was on top form, and despite the curious route, got us back to Chippenham in record time.
Winchester is a very pretty town and again we arrived early enough to buy artisan fudge and have a quick mooch about. On unpacking the band’s delicious Indian takeaway, I realised why it was so heavy not to mention expensive. My request for 4 onion bhajis, had become onion bhajis for 4… as a main. Twelve cricket ball size bhajis!
The weekend’s long journeys had provided really useful listening and research time for the big interview, ahead of my Sunday evening Radio 2 show, with the amazing composer, arranger and conductor Vince Mendoza. Not only does he compose incredible music under his own name, this chap has won 6 Grammys and received 31 nominations he has arranged sumptuous scores for Joni Mitchel, Gregory Porter, Kurt Elling, Joe Zawinal, Björk, Sting, Robbie Williams…. He was the cherry on the top of what was a most memorable weekend.
We’re swinging into 2018 with the ‘Swing’s The Thing’.
This brand new show sees Clare and her excellent musicians effortlessly traverse a rich landscape of timeless and sparkling material, with standards from the grand masters of the Great American Song Book, Cole Porter & Rodgers & Hart, to witty urbane song stylists of the 50’s & 60’2 Cy Coleman & Carolyn Leigh & Dave Brubeck, there’s always a not to more contemporary writers and originals too.
So check out our listings page for a venue near you and join us for a celebration of popular music from the golden age of song that guarantees to be upbeat and uplifting to the extreme!
The winners of the British Jazz Awards 2017 were announced late on Wed 8th November. Featuring a broad array of jazz talent and now in their 31st year they are the only poll that gives jazz lovers up and down the country the chance to vote on who their favourite musicians, bands and albums have been in the last 12 months.
Teal, who has previously won the British Jazz Awards for vocals in 2005, 2007 and 2015, is a sought after singer throughout the country with her stunning voice, encyclopaedic knowledge of jazz, swing and big band music, and her innate warmth as well as a prolific recording artist and popular BBC Radio 2 broadcaster.
Clare Teal says ‘It is an honour to win any award and as the British Jazz Awards are voted by the public it is pretty special to win for a fourth time particularly with the stellar line-up of nominees. So a big thank you to those who gave me their vote and a massive congratulations to all the other winners and nominees’.
All of Manchester’s communities stand together in strength, resilience and love.
In this most musical of cities, Manchester’s orchestral musicians from the Hallé, the BBC Philharmonic and the Manchester Camerata will come together with The Bridgewater Hall for a concert in support of the families and friends of the victims of last Monday’s atrocity.
The event details are:
Thursday 1 June at 8pm
The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
Sir Mark Elder and Stephen Bell will conduct members of the Hallé, Manchester Camerata and BBC Philharmonic orchestras
Performances by Clare Teal, Alice Coote and Guy Garvey
The evening will include inspiring and uplifting classical music, a performance by Alice Coote – one of the world’s finest mezzo sopranos – as well as songs from international jazz star Clare Teal and award-winning singer-songwriter Guy Garvey.
Everyone involved with the event are giving their services free. Tickets for the concert are free, but you MUST have a ticket to gain entry.
We are asking people, if they are able, to make a donation to the WeStandTogetherManchester Justgiving page at
You can get the latest information, details on admission and book tickets by visiting www.halle.co.uk/westandtogether. You can also contact the box office on 0161 907 9000. The Bridgewater Hall has waived its usual ticket charge. You will need your tickets to gain entry to the building.
Please check the Hallé link above for updated information as it is confirmed.
From Stomps and Shuffles, Boogie-Woogie, Blues, Bebop to Latin, ‘Swing No End’ promises another powerful and upbeat slice of musical action from the 1930’s & 1940’s.
Featuring 2 roaring big bands and special guests battling against each other led by Guy Barker and Winston Rollins, singer and broadcaster Clare Teal, takes us another journey celebrating the triumphs of big band greats including Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmie Lunceford, Boyd Raeburn, Machito, Stan Kenton and Woody Herman.